Responsibility begins with the willingness to take the stand that one is cause in the matter of one’s life. It is a declaration not an assertion, that is, it is a context from which one chooses to live. Responsibility is not burden, fault, praise, blame, credit, shame or guilt. In responsibility, there is no evaluation of good or bad, right or wrong. There is simply what’s so, and the stand you choose to take on what’s so.
Responsibility begins with the willingness to acknowledge that my self is the source of my experience of my circumstances. And yet, on occasion, some people think that I think accidents do not happen – or would not happen, if I were ‘really’ responsible. I am sure you will understand my occasional dismay when I am asked questions of this sort. On reflection, I usually recall that such questions derive from a well-intentioned (though perhaps limited) view of human dignity, an intention with which I can align myself, since my own intention is precisely to show that the experience of responsibility is enabling, not disabling.
I have no interest in the justification of circumstances or producing guilt in others by assigning obligation. I am interested in providing an opportunity for people to experience mastery in the matter of their own lives and the experience of satisfaction, fulfillment, and aliveness. These are a function of the self as context rather than thing, the self as space rather than location or position, the self as cause rather than self at effect.
I am not saying that you or anyone else is responsible. True responsibility cannot be assigned from outside the self by someone else or as a conclusion or belief derived from a system of concepts. I do not say that you or anyone is responsible. I do say – with me, you have the space to experience yourself as responsible – as cause in the matter of your own life. I will interact with you from my experience that you are responsible – that you are cause in your own life and you can count on me for respect and support as I am clear that I am fully responsible for my experience of you, that is to say, from my experience of the way you are.
Ultimately, one experiences oneself as the space in which one is and others are. I call this the transformation of experience. At the level of source – or context – or abstraction – I am you. That is beyond responsibility.”
From The est Standard Training, published in Biosciences Communication, 1977
We can choose to be audacious enough to take responsibility for the entire human family. We can choose to make our love for the world be what our lives are really about.
Each of us now has the opportunity, the privilege, to make a difference in creating a world that works for all of us. It will require courage, audacity, and heart. It is much more radical than a revolution – it is the beginning of a transformation in the quality of life on our planet.
You have the power to fire the shot heard ‘round the world. (Werner Erhard, Graduate Review, February 1980.)